Motorists urged to avoid I-40 during holiday
When Horace Greeley said “Go West, young man” he was probably not talking about using Interstate 40 and dealing with the log jam created by construction between the Hazen and Brinkley exits.
Officials with the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department and those with Arkansas State Police are urging motorists traveling west for the Fourth of July holiday to plan ahead, plan on using alternate routes or plan on an extended sit through miles of backed up traffic caused by road work.
“If you have to go west the first thing you need to do is leave early and leave yourself plenty of time. And don’t plan on taking I-40 past Brinkley,” said Lt. Jackie Clark with Arkansas State Police Troop D.
“If you’re going west towards Little Rock just plan on getting off the interstate at Brinkley because if you don’t, you could very well end up in no man’s land. You only have one other exit in that area between Hazen and Brinkley and that’s at Biscoe. Once the traffic starts backing up, it’s going to back up past that area and you’re in for a long wait,” said Clark.
Clark offered two suggestions for avoiding the logjam.
“If the traffic is stopped, when you get off at Brinkley go north to Cotton Plant, west over to Des Arc and then back south over to the interstate at Hazen. It will take you an extra 15 or 20 minutes but you’ll have a nice country drive and see parts of the state you may not have seen in awhile. If it’s flowing, but flowing slowly, get off the interstate at Brinkley and go over to Hwy. 70 and take it over to Hazen and get back on,” he said.
Clark said those who choose to travel on Hwy. 64 to try to avoid interstate traffic should make sure to watch for the oversize loads.
“Hwy. 64 is being used as the alternate route for the oversize loads so be careful of those if you’re taking that route,” he said.
Clark said troopers will be highly visible on the interstate today and tomorrow during the daytime before switching their efforts after dark.
“If you’re on the interstate today and tomorrow you’re going to see us. We’re going to be very visible during the daylight hours, assisting motorists and trying to make sure people are being safe on the road. After dark, we’re going to switch our efforts to drunks and getting them off of the road,” said Clark.
The heat could also play a role in travel, and Clark said motorists should be sure to check their vehicles before leaving their home.
“Check everything the best you can, especially your tires. Flats are pretty common when it gets this hot, and if you have one on the interstate, slowly make your way to the side of the interstate and get a safe distance from the traffic so that you can safely exit your vehicle. But, at the same time, especially with it as dry as it is, don’t get over too far because you don’t want to set the grass around your vehicle on fire and lose your vehicle either,” said Clark.
“The first guy out in the morning always checks the interstate to see if anyone needs help and the same goes for the last man in, so we will be out looking to assist people in need,” said Clark.
Clark also reminded motorists of the dangers with throwing lit cigarettes from vehicles.
“First, it’s littering, whether it’s dry or not. It’s always an issue and it’s one that we enforce. The other issue is that when you have conditions like we’ve seen over the last month it becomes a fire hazard so people don’t need to do it because it’s a danger for grass fires right now and it messes up the appearance of our state otherwise,” said Clark.
To contact ASP Troop D, which is headquartered in Forrest City, call 870-633-1454.
There are also lane closures at several other locations across the state including:
• Interstate 30 between mile markers 92-98 at Social Hill in Hot Spring County.
• Arkansas 245 between mile markers 6-8 at Texarkana in Miller County.
• Interstate 530 between mile markers 16-24 at Redfield on the Grant and Jefferson county line.
Construction zones are also in place at the I-430/630 interchange in Little Rock, on I-40 south of Conway and on I-30 near Texarkana.